Microsoft’s vision of its Xbox One is becoming apparent to the public as the company recently announced it would be making original shows exclusively to its customers. HBO started this trend with shows like The Sopranos and Sex & the City, Netflix has been doing this for quite some time and it has proven to be a very successful formula for them, with hit shows like House of Cards, now Microsoft aims to take it a step beyond with big budget shows like Halo and interactivity through Kinect.
“We are developing premium, original content for the Xbox community which is an audience we are incredibly respectful of,” said Nancy Tellem, president of Xbox Entertainment Studios. “We believe Xbox Originals should embrace the way our fans think about traditional TV.” Tellem’s creative vision involves year-round, high-quality programs based on subjects gamers care about, with interactive features tailored to each show.
There are 12 different projects in the works and we expect so see some of these unveiled at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the most notable of these productions is Halo. There will be two separate scripted projects on the “Halo” Franchise. Halo is arguably the game that made the Xbox brand what it is today, Xbox Live exploded with users because of Halo in the original Xbox era. Halo has built has such a massive following through games, and its popular books that have seen regular releases since 2001, that it has become a multi-billion dollar franchise of its own. Halo games alone have sold over 50 million copies and have grossed almost $3.4billion. There are over 15 Halo novels written by world renowned authors such as Greg Bear. The Halo universe is vast and has many stories to tell, it is of a dark toned nature, and with the recent announcement that Ridley Scott will be producing this series, Halo fans can rest assured that their beloved franchise is in good hands.
“I know full well from my years spent at traditional TV networks that creating a lineup of hit shows isn’t easy. It’s the beginning of a long journey, but we’re incredibly excited to be on our way,” Tellem said.
There are over 80 Million Xbox’s 360’s sold worldwide, 5 million Xbox Ones and roughly 250 million Windows 8 users – this is a massive reach Microsoft has with its audience, we still don’t know how they will use this new service to deliver all these projects, will they be available on all Microsoft powered devices and operating systems running the Xbox Video app? Will they require some sort of subscription? Is it only free to Xbox Live Gold subscribers? Maybe it will require an even more premium Xbox subscription, Xbox Live Gold is about $60/year currenty. Either way Microsoft seems to have a big audience they can work with, in comparison Netflix has just surpassed 35 million paying subscribers.
What Microsoft needs now is an Apple TV/Roku/Amazon Fire TV competitor – an Xbox version that doesn’t play games, an Xbox that costs $99-$150 and does everything else today’s Xbox One does but with a Kinect included. There have been rumors of Microsoft planning to subsidize the Xbox One through cable companies and internet service providers, this could be a momentous achievement as it can open the door to not just the 80 million customers its predecessor achieved in 8 years, but potentially hundreds of Millions of customers.
It seems the original content is the way to go these days as even more companies are getting into this space – Amazon is going at it full force recently announcing deal with HBO. Amazon Studios has already produced hit shows like Alpha House in 2013, and just a few months ago was renewed for a second season, more shows are on their way.
The battle for original content has just begun, Netflix has started something that’s proven to work, and it may be the secret sauce Microsoft needs to crack the TV market and drive more consumers to the Microsoft Cloud, we look forward to E3 this June as some of these shows are set to be unveiled.